The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC; French: Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson), commonly referred to as The Bay (La Baie in French), is a Canadian retail business group. A fur trading business for much of its existence, Hudson's Bay Company now owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada, Belgium, Germany, and the United States with Galeria Kaufhof, Gilt, Hudson's Bay, Home Outfitters, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH. HBC's head office is in the Simpson Tower in Toronto, Ontario. The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "HBC".
The company was incorporated by English royal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay and functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America before European states and later the United States laid claim to some of those territories. It was once the world's largest landowner, with the area of the Hudson Bay watershed, known as Rupert's Land, having 15% of North American acreage. From its long-time headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay, the company controlled the fur trade throughout much of the English and later British controlled North America for several centuries. Undertaking early exploration, its traders and trappers forged relationships with many groups of aboriginal peoples. Its network of trading posts formed the nucleus for later official authority in many areas of Western Canada and the United States. In the late 19th century, with its signing of the Deed of Surrender, its vast territory became the largest portion of the newly formed Dominion of Canada, in which the company was the largest private landowner.
By the mid-19th century, the company evolved into a mercantile business selling everything from furs to fine homeware. They "quickly introduced a new type of client to the HBC – one that shopped for pleasure and not with skins"; the retail era had begun as the HBC began establishing stores across the country. In July 2008, HBC was acquired by NRDC Equity Partners, which also owns the U.S. luxury department store Lord & Taylor. From 2008 to 2012, the HBC was run through a holding company of NRDC, Hudson's Bay Trading Company, which was dissolved on 23 January 2012. Since 2012, the HBC directly oversees its Canadian subsidiaries Hudson's Bay (formerly The Bay) and Home Outfitters, in addition to the operations of Lord & Taylor in the United States.
On 29 July 2013, the HBC announced its takeover of Saks, Inc., operator of the upmarket American department store operator Saks Fifth Avenue. The merger was completed on 3 November 2013. In September 2015, HBC acquired the German department store chain Galeria Kaufhof and its Belgian subsidiary from Metro Group for $3.2 billion U.S.
In May 2016, HBC announced it would expand to the Netherlands by taking over up to 20 former Vroom & Dreesmann sites by 2017. V&D was an historic Dutch department store chain that went bankrupt and shut down in early 2016. HBC said the expansion would cost CAD $340 million and create 2,500 jobs in the stores and another 2,500 temporary construction jobs. The Dutch stores would operate under the "Hudson's Bay" and "Saks Off Fifth" brands.
In January 2016, HBC announced it would also expand deeper in the digital space with its acquisition of online flash sales site, the Gilt Groupe, for U.S. $250 million....LESS